Vice President's Remarks in Davenport, Iowa
The River Center
6:15 P.M. CDT
AUDIENCE: Four more years! Four more years! Four more years!
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Thank you all very much.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: (Inaudible.)
THE VICE PRESIDENT: All right. (Applause.) Well, we're delighted to be back in the Hawkeye State. This looks like Bush-Cheney country. (Applause.)
And I'm delighted to share the stage tonight with Chuck Grassley. I got to tell you, he is a superb senator. (Applause.) A lot of what the President and I have been able to do with the Congress of the United States is due to Chuck Grassley's role as chairman of the Senate finance committee, his outstanding leadership for the people of Iowa and the entire country. Chuck, thank you very much -- (Applause.)
And, as Lynne said she has known me since I was 14 years old. But she wouldn't go out with me until I was 17. (Laughter.) I tell people that we got married because Dwight Eisenhower got elected President of the United States. (Laughter.) In those days I was a youngster living in Nebraska with the folks. Dad worked for the Soil Conservation Service. Eisenhower got elected; reorganized the government, Dad got transferred to Casper, Wyoming, and that's where I met Lynne. We grew up together, went to high school together, and recently celebrated our 40th wedding anniversary. (Applause.) I explained to a group the other night that if it hadn't been for Eisenhower's great victory, Lynne would have married somebody else. (Laughter.) And she said, right, and now he'd be Vice President of the United States. (Laughter.)
I don't know how many of you noticed our opponent Senator Kerry went goose hunting last week in Ohio. (Laughter.)
THE VICE PRESIDENT: I was impressed he went out and got a new camouflage jacket for the occasion, which made you wonder how many times he'd been goose hunting before. (Laughter.) My personal opinion is his camo jacket is an October disguise. (Laughter.) It's an effort he's making to hide the fact that he votes against gun owners every chance he gets. But, my fellow sportsmen, this cover-up won't work because you and I know the Second Amendment is more than just another photo opportunity. (Applause.)
Now, with three days left in the campaign, the choices in the election could not be more clear. The stakes are very high, both here at home and abroad. And I believe on November 2nd, the American people are going to make George W. Bush President for four more years. (Applause.)
The President, of course, was in Dubuque earlier this week. It's a pleasure to be with you here in Davenport today. It's a beautiful area where one of my heroes, Ronald Reagan began his career as a radio announcer. (Applause.) The President and I have a good feeling about this city and about this state. And with your help, we're going to carry Iowa come Election Day.
The President and I are also proud to work with your Congressman, Jim Nussle. He does a great job for everybody here. (Applause.) And we're proud to be on the ticket with Chuck and Jim this year here in Iowa.
I also want thank everybody today who has volunteered to help in the campaign, make phone calls, work the phone banks, put up yard signs, and help turn out the vote. The grassroots activists are an essential part of our effort, and the President and I are grateful for your support. (Applause.)
Iowa voters understand the importance of steady, principled leadership in the White House. This is no ordinary time for America. We've all seen the tape recently of Osama bin Laden. It's a reminder that we are engaged in a global war on terror. This is a conflict we did not choose, but it is one that we will win. (Applause.)
AUDIENCE: Four more years! Four more years! Four more years!
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Today, people in Iowa and across the land can be confident of a better future, a stronger economy, and a nation that is more secure because of the leadership of our President, George W. Bush. (Applause.)
Over the course of the last four years, I think people have seen very clearly the character and the vision of our President. He's a man of loyalty and kindness who speaks plainly and means what he says. He sets clear goals, and works with members of both parties to achieve them. He puts the country first and his deepest commitment is to making us safer, more prosperous, and more secure. (Applause.)
During the course of this campaign, we've seen something quite different in the President's opponent. He is a man who will say and do anything if he thinks it will advance his cause. Just over a year ago, John Kerry did something truly unthinkable for a man who aspires to be Commander-in-Chief; he turned his back on the troops that he had voted earlier to send into combat because he thought it was to his political advantage to do so.
Senator Kerry, you remember, voted in favor of using force against Saddam Hussein, but then during the Democratic primary when it came time to vote for funds that would provide our fighting men and women with body armor, ammunition, jet fuel, and spare parts, Senator Kerry voted "no."
THE VICE PRESIDENT: He offered a ridiculous explanation which, frankly, I think will go down in the history of American politics. He said, and I quote, "I actually voted for the $87 billion before I voted against it."
But the real reason -- the real reason he turned his back on the troops was Howard Dean. Dean was the antiwar candidate; Dean was surging ahead in the polls; and so John Kerry in order to advance himself in the Democratic primaries, turned his back on the troops. He said his vote was "complicated," but, my friends, supporting American troops in combat should never be a complicated matter. (Applause.)
John Kerry will say and do anything in order to get elected. He will attack the Patriot Act -- after he voted for it. He will attack the No Child Left Behind Act -- after he voted for it. He will try to scare young people by raising the specter of the draft ?- when he knows the only people who have supported the idea of bringing it back are two members of his own party. Nobody but a couple of Democrats wants to change the all-volunteer force because it is the finest military the world has ever known. (Applause.)
John Kerry will say and do anything to get elected. America's military men and women have liberated 50 million people in the last three years. (Applause.) In Afghanistan, they managed to do in two months what the Soviets could not do in 10 years. In Iraq, they toppled the regime of Saddam Hussein in three weeks. (Applause.) But instead of praising their achievement, John Kerry harps away at phony charges. He says we didn't put sufficient emphasis on destroying weapons in Iraq when, in fact, our troops have seized and are destroying 400,000 tons of munitions in that country. (Applause.)
He says we took our eye off the ball at Tora Bora, a charge that General Tommy Franks, who commanded our forces, has totally refuted. Given a choice between John Kerry's opinion and General Tommy Franks, I'll go with General Franks every time. (Applause.)
The campaigns our fighting men and women conducted to overthrow regimes in Afghanistan and Iraq will be studied for years for their speed and innovation, and that ought to be acknowledged. Moreover, our forces deserve our wholehearted support as they aid the efforts of the Afghan and Iraqi people to establish representative governments. This is tough work being conducted against vicious foes who want to see freedom fail. But look at what has been accomplished. In Afghanistan, 10 million people registered to vote, nearly half of them women. Three weeks ago today, elections were held for the first in the 5,000-year history of that country. (Applause.)
In January, the people of Iraq will vote, as well. And we'll be safer as a result. One of the lessons that history teaches is that institutions of self-government turn the energies of people away from violence to the peaceful work of building better lives. Freedom is the best antidote to terrorism. (Applause.)
John Kerry has spent a lot of this campaign playing armchair general, and, frankly, he's not very at it. (Laughter.) This shouldn't surprise us given his weak record on national security. He first ran for Congress advocating the idea we should deploy American troops only under the authority of the United Nations.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: He ran for the Senate on a platform that he should dismantle most of the major weapons systems Ronald Reagan used to keep the peace and win the Cold War.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: In 1991, when Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait and stood poised to dominate the Persian Gulf, John Kerry voted against Operation Desert Storm.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: In the first debate this year, Senator Kerry said America had to meet some kind of global test before we could take military action.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: The President and I know better than that. We know that it is not our job to conduct international opinion polls, our job is to defend America. (Applause.)
Now in the closing days of this campaign, John Kerry is trying every which way to cover up his record of weakness on national defense. But he can't do it. It won't work. As we like to say in Wyoming, you can put all the lipstick you want on that pig but at the end of the day, it's still a pig. (Laughter and applause.)
John Kerry does not have the judgment or the conviction that America needs in a President. He is not a steadfast leader. Our President is. And let me tell you why that matters. A country can never know what a President will be called upon to do. Think of the last four years; think of the challenges of 9/11 and the global war on terror. Because our President is a man of strong character and steadfast determination, he's led us very well.
At the Republican Convention in former Mayor Giuliani told the story of how on 9/11 he turned to his police commissioner, Bernie Kerik, and said, Thank God, George Bush is Commander-in-Chief. (Applause.)
Under the President's leadership, we have reached around the world to capture and kill thousands of al Qaeda. In Afghanistan, the camps where terrorists trained to kill Americans have been shut down, the Taliban driven from power. In Iraq, we dealt with a gathering threat and removed the regime of Saddam Hussein. Nineteen months ago, he controlled the lives of 25 million people. Today, he sits in jail. (Applause.)
Because of President Bush's determination in the war on terror, leaders around the world are getting the message. Just five days after Saddam Hussein was captured, Moammar Ghadafi of Libya agreed to abandon his nuclear weapons program and turned all the materials over to the U.S. (Applause.)
We could not have succeeded in these efforts without the help of dozens of countries around the world. We will always seek international support for international efforts, but as President Bush has made very clear, there is a difference between leading a coalition of many nations and submitting to the objections of a few. We will never seek a permission slip to defend the United States of America. (Applause.)
AUDIENCE: Four more years! Four more years! Four more years!
THE VICE PRESIDENT: The clearest, most important difference in this campaign is simple to state: President Bush understands the war on terror and has a strategy for winning it; Senator Kerry does not.
All doubt on that matter was removed recently when Senator Kerry said he that wanted to lead America back to the place where we were -- to a time when terrorism was, in his word, a "nuisance," like illegal gambling or prostitution. That's the comparison he made.
When I read that, I thought to myself, when was terrorism only a nuisance? Was it just a nuisance four years ago, when the USS Cole was attacked and nearly sunk and we lost 17 sailors? Was it a nuisance six years ago when they simultaneously attacked two of our embassies in East Africa and killed hundreds of people? Or maybe 11 years ago when they first bombed the World Trade Center in New York City? Or 16 years ago when Pan Am Flight 103 was blown out of the skies over Lockerbie Scotland? Or maybe 21 years ago, when a suicide bomber in a truck loaded with explosives drove it into a barracks in Beirut and killed 241 Marines?
Ladies and gentlemen, there never was a time when terrorism was just a nuisance. (Applause.) There never can be a time when terrorism is just a nuisance. Our goal is not to reduce terror to some acceptable level. Our goal is to defeat terror, and with George Bush as President, that's exactly what we will do. (Applause.)
These are not times for leaders who shift with the political winds; or who fail to understand the nature of the struggle we're in. Our troops, our allies, and our enemies must know where America stands. The President of the United States must be clear and consistent. In his years in Washington, John Kerry has been one of a hundred votes in the United States Senate – and fortunately on matters of national security, his views rarely prevailed. But the presidency is an entirely different proposition. A senator can be wrong for 20 years, without consequence to the nation. But a President always casts the deciding vote. And in this time of challenge, America needs ?- and America has ?- a President we can count on to get it right. (Applause.)
President Bush knows that our dedicated servicemen and women represent the very best of the United States of America. (Applause.) I want to thank them, their families, and all the veterans with us here today for what they've done for all of us. (Applause.)
Our country requires strong and consistent leadership for our actions overseas, and the same is true here at home. When President Bush and I stood on the inaugural platform on the west front of the Capitol and took the oath of office, our economy was sliding into recession. Then terrorists struck on 9/11 and shook our economy once again. We faced a basic decision – to leave more money with families and businesses, or to take more of the American people's hard-earned money for the federal government. President Bush made his choice. He proposed and he delivered tax cuts for the American people not once, not twice, but four times in four years. (Applause.)
Every American who pays federal income taxes benefited from the tax cuts, and so has our economy. We've created jobs for 13 consecutive months ?- a total of over 1.9 million new jobs during that period. Mortgage rates, interest rates, inflation are all low. Consumers are confident; businesses are investing; families are taking home more of what they earn. (Applause.)
We're seeing record exports for farm products. Farm income is up. Our farm economy is strong and that's good for the entire nation. (Applause.)
The President and I will not be satisfied until every American who wants to work can find a job. But this is a strong growing economy, don't let the Democrats tell you otherwise. (Applause.)
Our accomplishments these past four years have made America safer, stronger, and better. In our second term, we'll keep moving forward with a pro-growth, pro-jobs agenda. We'll work to make the Bush tax cuts permanent. And to help families and small businesses, we'll lead a bipartisan effort to reform and simplify the federal tax code. (Applause.)
We will work to end lawsuit abuse because we know it's a lot easier for America's businesses to hire workers if they don't have to keep hiring lawyers. (Applause.)
We'll continue to work to help parents and teachers improve our public schools so that all our children receive the world-class education they deserve. (Applause.) We'll work for medical liability reform because we know the cost of malpractice insurance is creating a crisis, not only in Iowa, but across the nation. America's doctors should be able to spend their time healing patients, not fighting off frivolous lawsuits. (Applause.)
President Bush and I will also continue to defend our society's fundamental rights and values. We stand for a culture of life and reject the brutal practice of partial birth abortion. (Applause.) We stand strongly for the Second Amendment and will defend the individual right of every American to bear arms. (Applause.) We believe our nation is "one nation under God." (Applause.) And we believe Americans ought to be able to say so when we pledge allegiance to our flag. (Applause.)
There shouldn't be any question about this ?- and there wouldn't be if we had more reasonable judges on the federal bench. (Applause.) The Democrats in the Senate have been doing everything they can – including using the filibuster – to keep the President's sensible, mainstream nominees off the bench. They are hoping to wait the President out. But I've got news for them. That's not going to happen because we're going to win this election. (Applause.)
AUDIENCE: Four more years! Four more years! Four more years!
THE VICE PRESIDENT: My friends, the differences between the President and his opponent are as sharp as they can possibly be, and the consequences are enormous for the nation. On vital matters of national security, Senator Kerry offers a record of weakness and a strategy of retreat. President Bush offers a record of steady purpose, resolute action, and a strategy for victory. (Applause.) Senator Kerry wants to empower government; President Bush will empower the citizens of this great land. (Applause.) John Kerry seems to think all wisdom is found in Washington; George Bush trusts the wisdom of the American people. (Applause.)
Under President Bush's leadership, we'll use America's great power to serve great purposes, to protect our homeland by turning back and defeating the forces of terror, and spreading hope and freedom around the world. Here at home, we will continue building a prosperity that reaches every corner of the land so that every child in America has a chance to learn, to succeed, and to rise in the world. (Applause.)
The President and I are honored by your commitment to the cause we all share. President Bush and I will wage this effort with complete confidence in the American people. The signs are good – here in Iowa, and even in Massachusetts. (Applause.)
According to a news account, people leaving the Democratic National Convention in July asked a Boston policeman for directions. He replied, Leave here ?- and go vote Republican. (Applause.)
President Bush and I are honored to have the support of that police officer -- (laughter) -- and of Democrats, Republicans, and independents from every calling in American life. We're grateful to our many friends across the great state of Iowa. We're proud to have you on the team. (Applause.) And together, on November 2nd, we'll see our cause forward to victory.
Thank you very much. (Applause.)
END 6:40 P.M. CDT
Richard B. Cheney, Vice President's Remarks in Davenport, Iowa Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/281085